22nd Apr 2014

Three benefits in having to attend a compulsory Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting or MIAM

– Why the Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings are more than just a box-ticking exercise

Most people who apply to the court for help in resolving children, parenting or matrimonial financial matters will have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting before they will be allowed to proceed with their application.

This requirement has come about because the government is keen to reduce the numbers of people resolving family disputes through the courts.  They believe that many of these cases can be dealt with better out of court.  Mediation is one process that can enable this to happen.

The compulsory Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, or MIAM for short, will make sure that people are exposed to and able to consider information about alternative methods of resolving their family law disputes.

It is possible however that many potential applicants will not share the government’s enthusiasm nor appreciate the degree of compulsion behind the requirement to attend (and pay for) such a meeting.

There is a risk that the MIAM could be seen as nothing more than a box ticking exercise or a hoop to be jumped through before being allowed to proceed with their preferred course of action.  If this happens then real benefits will be lost.

We explore three benefits below, namely the opportunities to;

  1. Take stock of the situation
  2. Select the best way forward
  3. Save potentially massive fees

Taking stock of the situation

When you attend a MIAM you will be meeting with a qualified and experienced mediator.  In your conversations with her or him you will be able to provide information about your situation and what has happened.  This will be a quite different conversation to any you have already had whether with your own lawyer or supporting friends and family members.

You might want to see your MIAM as being an opportunity to get a second opinion of sorts.

This is not a second opinion of what you will get but of how you might get it.

The MIAM explores how you and your partner might be able to sort matters out without incurring the cost and considerable acrimony experienced in many contested court proceedings.

You might be surprised to see that there are alternatives. 

Perhaps you had previously reached the stage where conflict between you and your partner is so bad that you had imagined that court was the only way things could possibly get resolved.  This might be a viewpoint that has been strengthened by the comments of your friends, family and lawyer.

In many such cases though there can still be potential for negotiations and mediation.

Your MIAM will enable you to take stock and re-consider whether an application to court is inevitable after all.

Select the best way forward

Your Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting will then give you an opportunity to select how you might move forward. 

On the most basic level this will be a choice between negotiations, with or without lawyers, mediation, collaborative law, arbitration or conventional lawyer representation and litigation.  The range of choices can be bewildering.  The MIAM provides a structure to explore these issues.

At a more detailed level, the conversations you have at your MIAM meeting can start to shape whichever process you choose so that it can be fine-tuned to meet your particular circumstances and needs.

You might want to think about

  • What time meetings will be held?
  • How frequently and for how long?  
  • Who will be involved?
  • Where will the meetings be?
  • What information will be required and when?
  • What can you expect once the process is under way?

Remember, the MIAM is not mediation itself.  If you choose not to proceed with mediation but with another process then that is still your decision.

The MIAM will ensure, however, that you are able to make an informed choice on which way you choose to progress.

Save potentially massive fees

There will be many cases that have been and will continue to be diverted away from contested court proceedings and into either mediation or collaborative law processes by virtue of the MIAM meetings.  Contested court proceedings are recognised as being the most potentially expensive form of dispute resolution.  That cost is not counted in money alone but also in the personal and relationship costs that are inflicted through the contested process.

How we can help you

Here at Family Law in Partnership, divorce lawyers and mediators in London, we have always believed that families going through separation or divorce are best served by having the full range of resources and processes available to them.  If you have any questions about mediation, MIAMs or divorce and separation generally then you can call us on 020 7420 5000 or email us at hello@FLiP.co.uk

You might also like to listen to this podcast audio [CLICK HERE] with Family Law in Partnership mediator Dominic Raeside, about the mediation process and how it can help your family.